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Innovators,  Technology,  United States

Ford, Verizon, Revlon among companies looking to up their blockchain game

Distributed ledger technology is a skill sought in firms not traditionally associated with the blockchain or cryptocurrency industry

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the last few days about the amount of blockchain and cryptocurrency jobs available at banks like JPMorgan and accounting firms like Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, but there are more than a few large, non-finance firms looking to hire people with blockchain knowhow and experience right now, including Ford, Revlon, and Penske Logistics, according to LinkedIn Jobs.

Some, like Ford and Penske, started trumpeting their interest in blockchain as Bitcoin’s soaring stock price focused attention on the technology, and have been getting involved with industry consortiums. The interest of others, like Smithfield Foods and Verizon, was piqued more recently. Then there are companies like Revlon and the quasi-private home mortgage reseller Freddie Mac, which are beginning to look for blockchain expertise in jobs with broader responsibilities, including management and analyst positions.

What is clear is that distributed ledger technology skills are increasingly in demand in a wide variety of companies beyond the blockchain industry companies, consulting firms, and financial institutions who have been leading the push to build and use cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

The same applies to governments. Most notably, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), hot on the heels of announcing hardly unexpected delays in deciding whether to approve the latest round of electronically traded fund (ETF) exchanges from Bitwise and others, is hiring an attorney and advisor as a crypto specialist who will provide “expertise and coordinate the Division of Trading and Market’s activities regarding crypto and digital asset securities.”

The position is for someone who will be a “point of contact for domestic and international regulators, market participants, and the public,” as well as “[p]roviding expert level comment on policy and workstreams” and acting as “lead representative in the SEC’s FinTech Working Group.”

State governments are getting in on the action as well. Colorado announced on March 29 that it is hiring a principal developer (emerging technologies) for the state’s digital strategy who is “knowledgeable and current with emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, cloud, and voice integration.”

Driving blockchain hiring

Last March, Ford announced it had been awarded a patent for a system of using blockchain to help coordinate between vehicles to help alleviate traffic congestion, and on January 16 joined an IBM Blockchain-led project to trace ethically sourced cobalt from the Congo. On January 12, 2018, less than a month after Bitcoin reached its December 17 high of $19,783.21, Penske Logistics joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), which is focused on distributed ledger technology’s use in logistics and supply chain management.

Ford’s blockchain software engineer position, posted on LinkedIn Jobs earlier this year, focuses on projects in both Ford Motor Company and its Ford Credit financing division. It requires expertise in both HyperLedger Fabric and Ethereum, as well as other blockchains.

The job was for a “a technical leader or anchor on the team… [who] should be ready to learn new technologies and teach best practices to other team members,” the ad reads. “At the end of each project, engineers will contribute to assessments of the blockchain technologies.”

Verizon Communications has some experience with blockchain technology, with employees having reported being offered bribes to assist in the type SIM swapping digital identity theft that enabled hacks that saw AT&T sued for $224 million last summer.

On March 29, it posted a listing for an “accounting manager – blockchain and data analytics,” who will utilize “data analytics strategies, strong accounting background, and Verizon programs and systems knowledge, [to] identify systems issues and functional gaps,” for the finance team.

A skill needed in more positions

Smithfield Foods also has a history with blockchain industry groups, having joined FoodLogiQ’s Food Industry Blockchain Consortium, along with giant firms like Tyson Foods and Subway, in November 2018. “[W]ith an industry-leading sustainability program, Smithfield upholds an exceptional reputation for traceability and transparency,” said Julia Anderson, global chief information officer for the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor, at the time. “Our partnership with the FoodLogiQ consortium allows us to be part of an ecosystem driving the deployment of blockchain within the food industry, further underscoring our commitment to producing good food the right way.”

The Smithfield job, posted to LinkedIn Jobs on March 29, is for an Enterprise Solution Architect who will be responsible for a number of new technologies including blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). The person hired will be “accountable for ensuring that technology solutions support the organization’s targeted business outcomes, deliver new capabilities and align with enterprise technology standards,” the job description reads.

Penske Logistics, on the other hand, began looking for an IT digital technology architect this week whose qualification should include experience with blockchain. It is a broad position aimed at broadly envisioning and then designing, building, and deploying “technical solutions on cutting edge digital technologies,” the job description reads.

Posted in mid-March, Revlon’s business analyst, consumer engagement is primarily a digital systems integration leader position, but among the requirements are remaining “up to date in innovation related to digital platforms, such as blockchain, alternative payment methods, and industry developments.”

Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored, Fortune 50 enterprise more properly known as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, is looking for an open innovation management, senior, for its Single-Family Business innovation lab. The position is focused on innovation encouragement and management, and will include managing “communities of practice (e.g., blockchain community) at Freddie Mac through use of lunch and learn series and targeted business challenge sessions.”

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.